Accounts and pages on social media platforms have recently circulated a claim that a brigade leader named Mike Toman, leading the U.S. Delta Forces participating in the war on Gaza, was killed alongside an explosive’s disposal expert named Colonel Tom Bargiker and eight other team members. This allegedly occurred when they entered a tunnel in the northern Beit Lahia area, where Hamas had set up an ambush for them.
Misbar investigated the claim and found that the United States has not officially announced the participation of any of its forces in a ground military incursion into the Gaza Strip. Upon investigation, it was revealed that the commander of Delta Force is actually Frank Bradley, not Mike Toman. Moreover, the search for the explosives expert "Tom Barjeker" yielded no relevant results.
Conversely, a reverse search of the attached image used in the claim indicated its symbolic use. The image was taken during the Gulf War and features U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf alongside a Delta Force soldier holding a "CAR-15" rifle.
The Nature of the US Military Activity in Israel and the Gaza Strip
According to statements made by a senior official in the U.S. Department of Defense, the role of the U.S, Special Forces in Tel Aviv is limited to assisting Israelis in various aspects, including identifying and locating prisoners, including American captives. Other officials revealed to The New York Times that the United States has sent dozens of special forces personnel to Israel in recent weeks. They joined a group already present there before October 7 to participate in military training.
The United States had sent a highly experienced marine brigade specializing in special operations, led by James Glenn, to Israel to provide advice on ground operations. However, he departed before the incursion into the Gaza Strip began.
The article published by Responsible Statecraft on November 14 mentioned that the only strong evidence of direct American intervention in Gaza until that point was a series of unarmed drone flights over southern Gaza aimed at trying to locate prisoners. The same source added that some eyewitnesses claimed to have seen stickers of the American flag on the uniforms of some soldiers involved in the ground operation in Gaza, yet media outlets did not confirm the validity of this claim.
A U.S. official previously disclosed to journalist Spencer Ackerman that the United States is considering activating an emergency plan allowing direct involvement of U.S. special forces in a prisoner rescue operation. However, according to the same official, this plan remains theoretical.
A photo captured during Biden's visit to Israel on October 18, initially shared by the White House and later deleted, revealed the identities of Delta Force members saluting the American president.
What Are Delta Forces?
Delta Force, officially known as the "1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta" (1st SFOD-D), is a unit within the U.S. Special Operations Forces primarily specialized in counterterrorism missions.
The missions of Delta Force are characterized by their flexibility, as they are capable of engaging directly in hostage rescue missions and covert operations under the supervision of the U.S. intelligence agency. Additionally, they provide high-level protection services for senior U.S. officials during their visits to war-torn countries.
Who Leads the Delta Force?
Delta Force operates under the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), led by Vice Admiral Frank Bradley since August 2022. Administratively, Delta is supported by the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), commanded by Brigadier General Brian Venton.
The Palestinian Resistance Factions Have Not Announced the Death of a Delta Force Commander
Upon revisiting the official channels of the Palestinian resistance factions on the Telegram platform, Misbar found no announcement regarding the alleged killing of a Delta Force commander, an explosives expert, or their companions. Instead, Saraya al-Quds, affiliated with the Islamic Jihad Movement, reported on November 14 clashes between its fighters and occupation soldiers in the Salateen area west of Beit Lahia. The latest update from the Qassam Brigades about ongoing battles in Beit Lahia, before the claim emerged, dates back to November 8, mentioning the resistance fighters successfully destroying a tank in the Salateen area.
The Death Toll From the War on Gaza Continues To Rise
The Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip, since the start of Operation Al-Aqsa Storm on October 7, has led to the killing of more than 11,470 Palestinians, including 4,707 children, 3,155 women, and 686 elderly individuals. Moreover, according to the latest figures from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, over 29,000 others have been injured.